Ellen Sandbeck is an organic landscaper, worm wrangler, writer, and graphic artist who lives with (and experiments on) her husband and an assortment of younger creatures — which includes two mostly grown children, a couple of dogs, a small flock of laying hens, and many thousands of composting worms — in Duluth, Minnesota. She is the author of Slug Bread & Beheaded ThistlesEat More Dirt, Organic Housekeeping and her latest, Green Barbarians.

 

A clogged or overflowing toilet is one of the most common reasons for water damage in the bathroom.  Depending on the make and age of your toilet, and what’s causing it, this can be a simple or difficult problem to fix.  <br />

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To avoid expensive repairs from a broken toilet, it’s important to fix the problem immediately.  The longer you wait, the more damage is likely to occur.  <br />

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So what do you do when your toilet is acting up?  Follow these DIY tips to learn how to fix a clogged or overflowing toilet.  <br />

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If your toilet is overflowing, don’t panic and don’t flush.  An overflowing toilet is usually the result of a clog, so if you flush, it will only make the problem worse.   What you want to do is shut the water off under the tank.  If this is not possible, lift up the float ball in the back of the toilet and have someone else turn the main water line off.  <br />

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If you can’t get the toilet to stop overflowing or you come home to find your toilet has been overflowing while you were out, <a href=”http://www.waterdamagerestoration.net/”>call a professional</a> immediately. There may be extensive water damage to your bathroom and you’ll want your insurance to help cover the costs.  <br />

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<strong>How to Unclog a Toilet</strong><br />

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First of all, <a href=”http://www.blockedtoilet.org/how-to-unclog-a-toilet/”>what’s clogging the toilet</a>?  This is an important question because it will determine which tool you will use to unclog the toilet:  a standard plunger or a toilet auger (also known as a snake).    <br />

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For homeowners who have small children, anything could be down there.  Kids love to flush things down the toilet.  If you know  your little one may have flushed a toy, hairbrush, or any other item down the toilet, you’ll need to use a toilet auger.  For all other standard clogs, a plunger should work just fine.  <br />

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<strong>Standard Plunger</strong><br />

 

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Hand fixing toilet

 

 

 

 

 

 

First, take the lid off the back of the toilet.  If the toilet starts to overflow during your unclogging attempt, you’ll need to push down on the flapper to get it to stop.  <br />

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Wet Plunger

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next, take your standard plunger (a bell shaped one works best) and use as much force as you can muster and plunge a good ten times.  If there isn’t much water in the bowl, add a little so you can get a good suction.  Once the water begins to flow easily, chances are you removed the clog.  To test your work, flush the toilet.  <br />

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<strong>Toilet Auger</strong><br />

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For more serious clogs you’ll need to snake out the object.  A toilet auger can be purchased at your local hardware store and if all goes well, it will pay for itself by avoiding the need to call a plumber.  <br />

800px-Handheld-Drain-Auger

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Guide the auger as far into the toilet as you can.  While pushing down, turn the handle clockwise. You’ll need to get the auger’s cable all the way in so if you need to change the cranking direction, do so until you think the clog has been cleared.  Once the clog is cleared, test your work by flushing the toilet.<br />

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Everyone has had to deal with a clogged or overflowing toilet at one time or another.  Usually, it’s an easy fix.  However, it’s important to avoid these problems in the first place by <a href=”http://www.selective.com/fyi/Three-of-most-common-water-damage-issues-in-home-421.aspx”>regularly inspecting your toilet </a>a couple of times a year to make sure everything is working properly.  If any of the parts, including the flush valve, are old or damaged, you can easily and inexpensively replace them and avoid unnecessary problems.  As for the little ones flushing objects down the toilet, well, that’s another story entirely – and a good one to tell your friends!<br />

 

Papercut by Ellen Sandbeck, Copyright 2014

Papercut by Ellen Sandbeck, Copyright 2014

 

 

My First Vermage a Trois

March 24, 2012 

Yesterday evening I participated in a truly wonderful event at Amazing Grace Bakery and Cafe. ”Farmers Take the Stage,”is an annual wingding sponsored by the Lake Superior Sustainable Farming Association, and showcases farmer/musicians, farmer/writers, farmer/poets, and farmer/humorists of all ages. It was pretty much standing room only, so the square dancing was, as we say in Minnesota, interesting. The amount and level of talent packed into a lot of calloused, dirt stained hands was impressive. But when Paul Webster, the farmer/blacksmith/chimneysweep, and pennywhistle virtuoso, sang “I’m a Man You Don’t Meet Every Day,” by The Pogues, his gorgeous tenor voice and shameless mugging brought the house down.

I read the following:

I’ve been asked to read something I’ve written about worms and composting. Since vermicomposting is one of my favorite subjects in the world, one would suppose that this would be an easy assignment. Unfortunately for me, this assumption has turned out to be wrong.  Though I have demonstrated on numerous occasions that I can pontificate endlessly, or at least until my voice gives out, on the subject of vermicomposting, it appears that the quickest way to shut me up is to give me a creative writing assignment on the subject.
This morning I read an email from Wes Seele, informing me that I had a ten minute slot at 8:30 this evening. My husband Walt suggested I read something from “Green Barbarians.” I also toyed with the thought of reading a little something I wrote years ago–I thought I could just print it out and read it this evening. But I couldn’t find it; it may have gone down with the wreck of my previous computer. Luckily, I can remember the occasion as if it were yesterday.…
Years ago, Walt’s back was really bothering him, and he thought he needed massage.  He searched for and found a masseuse who was willing to trade several massage sessions for a worm bin. Her name was Cedar.
I often trade worm bins and worms for things I definitely wouldn’t buy if I had to pay for them the traditional way, mostly because I so seldom have any traditional money to spare, so I was thrilled to be able to trade a worm bin for several massage sessions.
Cedar lived on top of a hill in the middle of town somewhere. I can still feel the tilt of the car and remember the look of her house as we drove up to deliver her worm bin. I have sold hundreds and hundreds of worm bins, and I remember very few so clearly. But I remember this one because it was so different.
The day before, I had been up to my armpits in one of my 150 gallon worm bins, harvesting worms for Cedar’s bin. I was reveling in the sweet cheerful smell of leaf mold, gently plucking worms out of the compost, and dropping them in a bucket of damp worm bedding. The day was grey and overcast, there was not a sign of life outdoors, but my bin smelled like Spring. (An aside, many people have told me that they feel better when they stand next to their worm bins—it might be because of the fragrance, it might be because bacteria in the worm bin break down contaminants in the air which is pulled into the bin as the worms respire, or could be due to an entirely different phenomenon. I am not well-equipped to answer this question.)
But I digress. Here I was, enjoying my worm bin, communing with the worms, checking out the progress of the decomposing apple cores and banana peels, enjoying the heat of the bin, when all of a sudden I saw something odd, something I’d never seen before. Now I’d seen worms mating before, many thousands of them, two by two, as is the wont of good hermaphrodites, but this mating tangle looked different. My heart started pounding, had my bin gotten contaminated by alien worms? I gently pulled the tangle to the surface and laid it out. Three worms. THREE WORMS? Are you kidding me? Three worms? I’d been doing worm composting for about 15 years by then, and I’d never even heard of such a thing, much less seen it. I counted tails. Several times. Three worms? My heart tried leaping out of my chest. The tangle startled and straightened out, forming a small triangle, heads to “chests,” as it were, exchanging sperm, their tails sticking way out straight, like sunrays. I felt as if I were face to face with God. As if in a daze, I gently added the trinity to the worms already in the bucket. Much later, after my head cleared, I thought, “What did I just do? I added the only worm trinity I’m likely to ever see to a batch of worms I’m sending away?” But once a drop of water is added to a pond, it cannot be retrieved. Then I thought, perhaps it is better this way–I was harvesting worms to be sent to a new home, maybe it would have been a bad thing, a greedy thing, to have held onto them, perhaps they were sent to be a sacrifice. That afternoon I spent several hours drawing diagrams, trying to figure out the logistics of three worms mating.
About a year ago, I saw it again. I was harvesting worms for another bin, and saw a tangle that was much too big. I fished it out, and there it was, another vermitrinity. I put it on top of the bedding in my harvesting bucket, carried it into the house, and took several very blurry photographs. Then I tipped the entire bucket of worms into the new worm bin that was waiting for them. I don’t remember the people who bought this worm bin at all. How quickly we can acclimate to the miraculous!
The day before yesterday I saw my third vermage a trois. I spent some time admiring the way the three worms blended into each other, the way their tiny heads stuck out from the central triangle, the elegant way their tails rayed out. But this time, I wasn’t harvesting worms destined for a new home. This time I get to keep them.

A Garlic kind of day

Today is going to be a garlic kind of day. Walt and I have been preparing the garlic beds for autumn planting, clearing out the weeds, adding worm compost and worm juice, and I hope to start actually putting cloves into the soil sometime tomorrow. Autumn planting is the only way to grow really large heads around here, and garlic adores a heavy feeding of worm compost and worm juice!

This year’s garlic heads are dry and slumbering cozily in paper bags in the study, and I have separated out the largest, choicest heads for replanting. After planting only the largest, most robust garlic for the past 11 years, our garlic is quite well adapted to our particular garden, and last year’s almost total crop failure, due to flooding, caused much heartache. I ended up planting what we would normally have been eating, and we ran out of garlic before the new garlic was ready to eat this summer, which was very frustrating. However, because we made sacrifices last year (and dug very deep trenches around all our garlic beds) this year’s crop is spectacular. To paraphrase an old saying: “Never eat your seed garlic.”

Walt and I eat what to most people must seem like ungodly amounts of garlic, but I have grown so accustomed to garlic that I can barely detect a reasonable amount of garlic when it is cooked into a dish–if I am to recognize it as food with garlic in it, it has to contain a really large amount of garlic, for instance a whole head in a pot of soup.

This year’s garlic gourmandizing has been aided and abetted by a nifty keen new gadget that Walt just had to have when he spotted it in a super-discount store in Chicago last fall: it’s called a Leifheit Gourmet Cutter, and since we bought it, we’ve used it a minimum of once every day. This morning Walt cooked our eggs over a bed of sliced garlic, YUM! I’m not much of a gadget person, but I do appreciate being able to cut paper thin slices of garlic without garnishing them with pieces of my own skin!  http://www.amazon.com/Leifheit-03046-Comfortline-Gourmet-Cutter/dp/B002BFCNAC

Next time, musings on filet gloves.

Hedge fund manager John Paulson “earned”  $5 billion in 2010. (Yes, that’s a five with nine zeros behind it.) Under our current tax laws, if Mr. Paulson paid the full tax owed on that sum of money, rather than the discount rate he actually pays after loopholes, deductions, and money stashed overseas, he would have paid 35% tax on his income, (which is, coincidentally, the same tax rate as mine because of self-employment taxes, though his income was approximately 100,000 times larger than mine last year).

Besides the obvious income disparity, there are other differences between me and Mr. Paulson. For instance, I earn money by writing about environmental topics, wrangling composting worms, and teaching Federal inmates how to vermicompost food waste. I also grow, forage and scrounge a lot of our food. In other words, I am flying by the seat of my pants, which are getting increasingly threadbare. Mr. Paulson, on the other hand, made much of his money last year by “shorting,” which means that he made money by betting against our economy: the worse the economy got, the more money he made. Thus he had no incentive whatsoever to try to help the economy or create jobs. Could anyone possibly get farther from being “a jobs creator” than that?

The highest tax bracket ever in the United States was 94% in 1944-1945, at the end of WWII. This top bracket, was for people who earned more than $250,000 a year. But $250,000 ain’t what it used to be: those 1944 dollars translate to approximately $3.2 million in 2011 dollars.

I have wracked my single functioning brain cell that does numbers, and figured out that if Mr. Paulson had paid the 1944 tax rate on his 2010 “earnings,” his take home pay would have been $300 million. And I don’t know how anyone could possibly survive on such a paltry sum. Could you?

In celebration of Newt Gingrich’s brilliant proposal to set small, impoverished children to janitorial work in their own schools, thus, no doubt putting some of their own parents out of work, I present the following:
1) Excerpt from Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol (Slightly amended to bring it up to date. I am pretty sure that Dickens would approve the very slight changes:  “Scrooge” to “Gingrich.”  Union Workhouses” to “jails.”  “The Treadmill” and the “Poor Law” deleted, since I could not come up with a relevant equivalent that a modern-day American Scrooge would actually support.)

“At this festive season of the year, Mr. Gingrich,” said the gentlemen, taking up a pen, “it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the Poor and destitute, who suffer greatly at the present time. Many thousands are in want of common necessaries; hundreds and thousands are in want of common comforts, sir.”

“Are there no prisons?” asked Gingrich.
“Plenty of prisons,” said the gentleman, laying down the pen again.
“And the jails?” demanded Gingrich. “Are they still in operation?”
“They are. Still,” returned the gentleman, “I wish I could say that they were     not…”
“Oh! I was afraid, from what you said at first, that something had occurred to     stop them in their useful course,” said Gingrich. “I’m very glad to hear it.”
“Under the impression that they scarcely furnish Christian cheer of mind or body to the multitude,” returned the gentleman, “a few of us are endeavoring to raise a fund to buy the Poor some meat and drink, and means of warmth. We choose this time, because it is a time, of all others, when Want is keenly felt, and Abundance rejoices. What shall I put you down for?”
“Nothing!” Gingrich replied.
“You wish to be anonymous?”
“I wish to be left alone,” said Gingrich. “Since you ask me what I wish, gentlemen, that is my answer. I don’t make merry myself at Christmas and I can’t afford to make idle people merry. I help to support the establishments I have mentioned—they cost enough; and those who are badly off must go there.”
“Many can’t go there; and many would rather die.”
If they would rather die,” said Gingrich, “they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population…”

(And if the poor won’t do Gingrich the favor of dying quietly, unobtrusively and modestly, yet he is putting forth no ideas as to what to do with all the rabble as it is evicted from its modest dwellings, may I suggest that Mr. Gingrich cast his porcine eyes over this brilliant proposal by Dr. Jonathon Swift? The only other technique that makes any sense involves a great waste of perfectly good long pork.)

2)  Excerpt from Dr. Jonathon Swift’s “A Modest Proposal; For Preventing the children of poor people in Ireland, from being a burden on their parents or country,
and for making them beneficial to the publick.”  1729

“I think it is agreed by all parties, that this prodigious number of children in the arms, or on the backs, or at the heels of their mothers, and frequently of their fathers, is in the present deplorable state of the kingdom, a very great additional grievance; and therefore whoever could find out a fair, cheap and easy method of making these children sound and useful members of the common-wealth, would deserve so well of the publick, as to have his statue set up for a preserver of the nation….
There is likewise another great advantage in my scheme, that it will prevent those voluntary abortions, and that horrid practice of women murdering their bastard children, alas! too frequent among us, sacrificing the poor innocent babes, I doubt, more to avoid the expence than the shame, which would move tears and pity in the most savage and inhuman breast…
There only remain an hundred and twenty thousand children of poor parents annually born. The question therefore is, How this number shall be reared, and provided for? which, as I have already said, under the present situation of affairs, is utterly impossible by all the methods hitherto proposed. For we can neither employ them in handicraft or agriculture; we neither build houses…
I have been assured by a very knowing American of my acquaintance in London, that a young healthy child well nursed, is, at a year old, a most delicious nourishing and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled; and I make no doubt that it will equally serve in a fricasie, or a ragoust.
I do therefore humbly offer it to publick consideration, that of the hundred and twenty thousand children, already computed, twenty thousand may be reserved for breed, whereof only one fourth part to be males; which is more than we allow to sheep, black cattle, or swine, and my reason is, that these children are seldom the fruits of marriage, a circumstance not much regarded by our savages, therefore, one male will be sufficient to serve four females. That the remaining hundred thousand may, at a year old, be offered in sale to the persons of quality and fortune, through the kingdom, always advising the mother to let them suck plentifully in the last month, so as to render them plump, and fat for a good table. A child will make two dishes at an entertainment for friends, and when the family dines alone, the fore or hind quarter will make a reasonable dish, and seasoned with a little pepper or salt, will be very good boiled on the fourth day, especially in winter…
I grant this food will be somewhat dear, and therefore very proper for landlords, who, as they have already devoured most of the parents, seem to have the best title to the children…”

3) Most adults are incapable of understanding, much less following, the rules, OSHA regulations, and necessary techniques necessary in order to use cleaning products safely in a school. Many kindergartners have trouble getting their milk cartons open before their lunch “hour” is over. Does Newt really think a kindergartner could read and understand the MSDS for a floor stripper or a toilet bowl cleaner? Do he really think a kindergartner could properly outfit herself with the appropriate goggles, gloves, and respirator required for safe application of cleaning chemicals? Does he really think there are such things as protective equipment sized appropriately for a kindergartner? Does Newt really think?

Here is the MSDS for a toilet bowl cleaner sold for janitorial use in schools:
———————————————————————————————————————- This MSDS complies with OSHA’S Hazard Communication Standard 29 CFR 1910.1200 and OSHA Form 174
IDENTITY AND MANUFACTURER’S INFORMATION
NFPA Rating: Health-1; Flammability-2; Reactivity-0; Special- -
HMIS Rating: Health-1; Flammability-2; Reactivity-0; Personal Protection-B
Manufacturer’s Name: Amrep, Inc.
Address: 990 Industrial Park Dr.
Address: Marietta, GA 30062
DOT Hazard Classification: NON-REGULATED
(In containers less than 119 gallons capacity: GROUND DOMESTIC)
Identity (trade name as used on label):
MISTY CRYSTAL CLEAR DUST MOP TREATMENT
Solvent Degreaser
Prepared: 03/01/05 Prepared By: IB
MSDS Number: B00811 Revision – 11
Information Calls: (770)422-2071
EMERGENCY RESPONSE NUMBER: 1-800-255-3924
NOTICE: JUDGEMENT BASED ON INDIRECT TEST DATA
SECTION 1 – MATERIAL IDENTIFICATION AND INFORMATION
COMPONENTS-CHEMICAL NAMES AND COMMON NAMES
(Hazardous Components 1% or greater; Carcinogens 0.1% or greater)
CAS Number
SARA
III LIST
OSHA PEL
(ppm)
ACGIH
TLV (ppm)
Carcinogen
Ref. Source **
PARAFFINIC, NAPHTHENIC SOLVENT
(HYDROTREATED PETROLEUM DISTILLATE)
64742-47-8
No
NE*
N/E*
d
*100ppm (525 mg/m3) for 8 hour TWA recommended by manufacturer.
SECTION 2 – PHYSICAL/CHEMICAL CHARACTERISTICS
Boiling Point: Greater than 400ºF
Specific Gravity (H2O=1): 0.78
Vapor Pressure: PSIG @ 70°F (Aerosols): N/A
Vapor Pressure (Non-Aerosols)(mm Hg and Temperature): not determined
Vapor Density (Air = 1): not determined
Evaporation Rate ( = 1): N/D
Solubility in Water: Negligible
Water Reactive: No
Appearance and Odor: Water white, clear oily liquid with slight grapefruit odor.
SECTION 3 – FIRE AND EXPLOSION HAZARD DATA
FLAMMABILITY as per USA FLAME PROJECTION TEST (aerosols) N/A
Auto Ignition Temperature
ND
Flammability Limits in Air by % in Volume:
% LEL: ND % UEL: ND
FLASH POINT AND METHOD USED (non-aerosols): greater than 204ºF TCC
EXTINGUISHER MEDIA: Water spray or fog, foam, dry chemical or CO2. Do not use direct water stream.
SPECIAL FIRE FIGHTING PROCEDURES: Do not enter confined fire space without proper protective equipment including NIOSH approved self-contained breathing apparatus. Cool fire exposed containers, surrounding equipment &
structures with water.
Unusual Fire & Explosion Hazards: None expected.
SECTION 4 – REACTIVITY HAZARD DATA
STABILITY [ X ] STABLE [ ] UNSTABLE
HAZARDOUS POLYMERIZATION [ ] WILL [ X ] WILL NOT OCCUR
Incompatibility (Mat. to avoid): Oxidizing materials.
Conditions to Avoid: Heat, sparks, open flame.
Hazardous Decomposition Products: Oxides of carbon & unidentified organic compounds may be formed during combustion.
SECTION 5 – HEALTH HAZARD DATA
PRIMARY ROUTES OF ENTRY: [ ] INHALATION [ X ] INGESTION [ ] SKIN ABSORPTION [ ] EYE [ ] NOT HAZARDOUS
ACUTE EFFECTS: As product is not highly volatile under ambient conditions, inhalation acute effects due to vapor inhalation is unlikely to occur. (See note concerning inhalation of mist under Inhalation below.)
Inhalation: High vapor concentrations may cause CNS depression, headaches, dizziness, irritation of mucous membranes, and kidney effects. Extreme concentrations or inhalation of mist or aspiration into lungs may cause chemical pneumonitus or asphyxiation.
Eye Contact: Slight irritation from short term contact. Prolonged & repeated contact more irritating.
Skin Contact: Prolonged & repeated liquid contact may result in irritation and dermatitis.
Ingestion: May result in nausea and vomiting. Aspiration of vomitus into lungs must be avoided as lung contact can result in chemical pneumonitis, asphyxiation and pulmonary edema.
CHRONIC EFFECTS: None known.
Medical Conditions Generally Aggravated by Exposure: Pre-existing irritation of skin or mucous membranes.
EMERGENCY FIRST AID PROCEDURES
Eye Contact: Flush with water for 15 minutes. If irritation persists, get medical attention.
Skin Contact: Wash with soap and water. If irritation persists, get medical attention.
Inhalation: Remove to fresh air. Provide oxygen if breathing is difficult. Get medical attention.
Ingestion: DO NOT INDUCE VOMITING. Drink 3 to 4 glasses of water. Get immediate medical attention.
SECTION 6 – CONTROL AND PROTECTIVE MEASURES
Respiratory Protection (specify type): As required to prevent overexposure. NIOSH approved air purifying respirator for organic vapors or atmosphere-supplying respirator.
Protective Gloves: As required to minimize skin contact.
Eye Protection: Safety glasses or goggles.
Ventilation Requirements: Local exhaust is generally sufficient. If material is heated, explosion proof ventilation as required to control vapor concentrations.
Other Protective Clothing & Equipment: Clothing as required to minimize skin contact. Eyewash station and safety shower.
Hygienic Work Practices: Do not eat, drink or smoke in work area. Wash hands after handling.
SECTION 7 – PRECAUTIONS FOR SAFE HANDLING AND USE
Steps To Be Taken If Material Is Spilled Or Released: Contain spill. Keep out of surface waters & any sewers or water courses entering or leading to surface waters. Soak up with inert absorbent & place in properly labeled leak-proof containers for disposal.
Waste Disposal Methods: Dispose of in accordance with all local, state and federal regulations.
Precautions To Be Taken In Handling & Storage: Store in original shipping containers away from heat, open flame & oxidizing materials. Keep closed when not in use.
Other Precautions &/or Special Hazards: KEEP OUT OF REACH OF CHILDREN. Read & follow label directions.
We believe the statements, technical information and recommendations contained herein are reliable, but they are given without warranty or guarantee of any kind.
** Chemical Listed as Carcinogen or Potential Carcinogen. [a] NTP [b] IARC Monograph [c] OSHA [d] Not Listed [e] Animal Data Only
——————————————————————-

For some reason I have never been able to fathom, vinegar seems to be an extremely controversial substance these days. Since I published “Green Housekeeping,” (“Organic Housekeeping” in hardbound) I have gotten quite a few queries from concerned readers who were worried about the environmental and human health impacts of good ol’ kitchen-variety vinegar.

via Green Barbarians.

Yet the life you save may be your own.

A couple of weeks ago I suddenly realized that Walt hadn’t donated blood in a while, so when he got home, I talked him into it. Later that very evening, by sheer coincidence really, I had nothing to do with it! the Blood Bank called and wanted him to donate, so he made an appointment. Great minds think alike, I guess.

via Green Barbarians.

Hi Ellen,

I purchased your book Green Housekeeping and am using  and loving the cleaning advice.  I have a question about vinegar…I had a couple bottles of “green cleaners” one was “holy cow.” In the description of their window cleaner they state that it contains no vinegar or any other harmful chemicals…???  I just wanted to get your take on that.

When using sals suds, mixed with water for cleaning, do I need to rinse?

Last one, Sal suds has SLS as the second ingredient next to water in their suds.  I’ve  spent years looking at shampoo labels, trying to find one without SLS…??

Please advise. Your website looks great !   Thanks, Vicki

Hi Vicki,

I’m very glad to hear that you are enjoying Green Housekeeping!  Thank you for writing to me!

I don’t know what planet the “holy cow” people live on, but on my home planet, vinegar is what happens when vegetative matter ferments… It’s not harmful here.  In fact, the Department of Defense uses vinegar in bioremediation projects to remove contaminants such as nitrates, carbon tetrachloride (a solvent used in plutonium processing), petroleum, explosive compounds, and even uranium from ground water, and they do this by pouring vinegar down wells!

The common kind of vinegar that one buys at the grocery store is diluted and is “food grade,” meaning that it is safe to ingest full strength–which I frequently do when I eat oil and vinegar salad dressing.  I’ve also drunk apple cider vinegar in water as a health drink, and I’m still here. People have been making and ingesting vinegar for millennia…  There is such a thing as laboratory grade acetic acid out there, which is quite strong, and is NOT available in regular stores. However, no consumer product would contain that high a percentage of acetic acid. Sal suds are basically liquid soap, so yes, you should rinse.

The only cleaners I know of that don’t need to be rinsed are vinegar and hydrogen peroxide, everything else leaves some kind of residue. SLS is one of those substances that is a bit harsh when used full strength, but pretty harmless when diluted. There are a lot of substances like that out there, and just because something should be diluted before use, does not mean that one should not use it in dilute form.  As the label on the Dr. Bronner says: “Dilute! Dilute! Dilute!”  I once read a forum in which people were chatting about Dr. Bronner’s Soap: one person was extremely worried because soap is made with lye, which is very very caustic–she concluded that Dr. Bronner’s was too dangerous to use because soap is made with lye. Well, there is no other way to make soap other than to “saponify” fat with a strong alkali (i.e. lye) and once the fat is saponified, there is a chemical reaction, and the lye is no longer lye.

Another woman complained that her private parts stung after she washed them with full strength Dr. Bronner’s, and stated that she was never going to use Dr. Bronner’s Soap again.  Good grief! Of course it hurt! Getting full strength soap on a mucous membrane is going to hurt!  Getting soap in your eyes hurts too, it doesn’t mean that soap is bad, it just means that you should keep it out of your eyes, and, until you dilute it, out of your tender parts.

I always dilute my Dr. Bronner’s Soap down to half strength as soon as I get it home, by pouring half of it into an empty Dr. Bronner’s bottle, and then filling both bottles up the rest of the way with water. We waste far less soap when it is diluted, and we don’t end up with stinging nether regions…

I hope this helps!

Ellen

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Now that I have nearly recovered from my ten-day-long vacation, I am ready to get back to work. The last blog post I wrote before going to the Jersey Shore for a Sandbeck Family get-together was about my earthshattering discovery of a red night light. In that post, I promised to write more about a couple of techniques that may help insomniacs. So, here goes.

via Green Barbarians.

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